Treasures from Princess Diana's family estate star at Christie's

This week, a fascinating variety artwork and heirlooms from Princess Diana's family home raised £21.1m ($31.1m) following after a three-day auction, as part of Sotheby's and Christie's Master Paintings Week.

At the Christie's Master Paintings art Sale, two Spencer family owned pieces were the stars of the show.

The first, an epic classical study of King David from 1651, by 17th Century Italian painter Guercino sold for a hammer price of £5,200,000 ($7,500,000) including the buyer's premium.

The Sir Peter Paul Rubens

Portrait sold for £9,000,000

($13,000,000)  at auction

However, of the 757 lots of show, it was an early 17th century portrait by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, entitled "A Commander Being Armed for Battle" which stole the show at the three day event.

Thought to depict the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Christie's  described the painting as "one of the most important works by the artist to remain in private hands in UK."

The painting was the talk of collectors attending the auction, eventually selling for £9,000,000 ($13,000,000).

Elsewhere, amongst the highlights of the Spencer heirlooms on sale, were a group of 19th-century horse-drawn carriages which attracted great interest from bidders, with the lucky winning bidder paying £2,000,000 ($3,000,000).

A variety of furniture, porcelain and art from the Spencer House in London also sold for a total £4,800,000 ($7,200,000).

Highlights included a pair of George II Sabicu, Lime  armchairs, described as "almost certainly designed by James 'Athenian' Stuart' and dating back to the period of 1758-65.

With an estimated price of £200,000-300,000 ($300,000 - 450,000) the chairs sold for an incredible £802,850 ($1,200,000). 

Elsewhere, a memorable late 17th century Japanese Imari Lacquered Porcelain Garniture brought nearly double its estimated £50,000-80,000 ($75,000-120,000) price, coming in at £109,250 ($165,000).

More unique still, the one-of-a-kind Spencer Family Garter jewels sold for £193,250 ($292,000), while a Ruby and Enamel Pendant from their collection trebled its £10,000-15,000 ($15,000-22,000) estimate, with the winning bid coming in at £46,850 ($69,000).

Following the conclusion of the auction, the Spencer family trustees released a short statement:

"We are pleased the auctions attracted such worldwide interest and realised a total of £21.1million. This will support our fundamental aim of ensuring that the Althorp Estate thrives for future generations."

Yet while the Spencer family's art collection may have made the headlines at Christie's Old Master Auction, it was a different story at Sotheby's...

The big sale of the day was that of the sale of a single canvas by J. M. W. Turner, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles for £29,721,250 ($45,000). The painting depicts a view of Rome from the Capitoline Hill.

The single canvas by J.M.W Turner sold for £29,721,250 ($45,000)

It had been expected to fetch a high auction price, due to the sterling provenance and equally impressive exhibition history of these artworks. However, the sale established a new world record price for a JMW Turner piece at auction.

In total, the Christie's sale was a great success, earning £42,300,000 ($63,000,000)  against a pre-sale estimate of £36,900,000 - 55,300,000 ($55,900,000 - 84,000,000). Likewise, the Sotheby's Old Master's auction earned £53,484,350 ($81,000,000)  against an estimate of £50,800,000 ($75,000,000) .


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